English-immersion plan dropped by Lee’s Presidential team in Korea

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January 30, 2008
Lee Myung-bak’s transition team has backed off its pledge to have some academic subjects, such as mathematics, science and history, be taught in English in public schools by 2010.
It has kept its controversial plan, however, to require English classes to be taught completely in English by then.
The plan to teach some regular classes in English, called an immersion program, got heavy criticism. People claimed the schools weren’t ready for such a drastic change and that it would increase students’ dependency on private cram schools as they try harder to learn English.
One of the goals of the Lee team’s English plan is to lower spending on private cram schools by increasing the quality of public education.
On Monday, the committee said that it will not force schools to introduce English-immersion education.
“There have been some misunderstandings and confusion over the public English education reform plan,” Lee Dong-kwan, spokesman for the committee, said at a news conference. “We don’t have a plan to force schools to introduce the so-called English-immersion education.”
On Jan. 22, Lee Kyung-sook, chairwoman of the committee, had said, “Subjects other than English can be taught in English.”
At a committee meeting yesterday, Lee Kyung-sook also clarified that the new English standardized test, scheduled to be introduced in 2013 for high school students, will include speaking and writing sections in 2015. Before then, the test will only include reading and listening sections.
“We need a lot of time to publicize the true goals and benefits of the policies to the public,” the chairwoman said.
The committee is scheduled to hold another public discussion session today, in which it will introduce its comprehensive plans for implementing English education reform in public schools.

By Kim Soe-jung Staff Reporter/ Baek Il-hyun JoongAng Ilbo
[soejung@joongang.co.kr]

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